Europe

Morales again raises eyebrows with papal gift

  • Bolivia's President Evo Morales, left, presents Pope Francis with books on the occasion of their private meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, Friday, April 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, pool)

    Bolivia's President Evo Morales, left, presents Pope Francis with books on the occasion of their private meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, Friday, April 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Bolivia's President Evo Morales, left, presents Pope Francis with books on the occasion of their private meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, Friday, April 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, pool)

    Bolivia's President Evo Morales, left, presents Pope Francis with books on the occasion of their private meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, Friday, April 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Bolivia's President Evo Morales, left, presents Pope Francis with a handcrafted bust of Bolivia's indigenous leader Tupac Katari on the occasion of their private meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, Friday, April 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, pool)

    Bolivia's President Evo Morales, left, presents Pope Francis with a handcrafted bust of Bolivia's indigenous leader Tupac Katari on the occasion of their private meeting in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican, Friday, April 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, pool)  (The Associated Press)

Bolivian President Evo Morales has again raised eyebrows with an unusual gift for Pope Francis: books about the health benefits of coca leaves.

Morales met with Francis Friday before attending a Vatican conference on social and economic justice. U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is also among those attending.

During the audience, Morales presented Francis with three books: "Coca, a bio-bank," ''Coca, citogenic diet" and "Coca, the anti-obesity factor."

Morales sparked a minor diplomatic incident during Francis' 2015 visit to Bolivia by giving the pope a crucifix fashioned as a communist-style hammer and sickle. Francis said he wasn't offended.

Coca leaf, the raw material for cocaine, is widely chewed in the Andes to fight against altitude sickness and as a mild stimulant.